My Week of Doing Puzzles

Personal Essay about taking a week of from work for self-care during quarantine and coronavirus. Finding peace and meditation in doing jigsaw puzzles. #quarantine #personalessay #stayhome #selfcare #wellness

I have probably rewritten the first sentence of this post and stared at the cursor for at least 30 minutes, not really knowing how to start off. You might have noticed that I didn’t share any blog posts last week and barely posted to social media… the truth is that I just needed a break. I had hit 2020 running with so many goals of launching my classes, exploring opening an online shop, writing some really in depth blog posts, and so much more. Especially because I took off time during the holidays to regroup, rest, and relax! I was so ready for 2020, optimistic even. But with the arrival of COVID-19, it feels so much like my motivation and drive have taken a hit. In just a week, I feel like my entire life got flipped upside down and everything shifted… and along with it, went my focus.

I started out by sharing posts I thought would inspire you to fill the time at home, but gradually, I fell into the mire of my own anxiety. I already struggle with anxiety and depression at times, but our current world has felt like way too much to handle recently. I chose to spend my time finishing my online classes instead of sharing blog posts that didn’t feel meaningful or especially helpful during this difficult time — and I felt SO guilty about it. This blog is my main source of income, but also my favorite way to connect with readers like you.

Last Monday, just one week ago, I woke up at my usual time and could not get out of bed. I felt totally immobilized with fear and anxiety. Not just of contracting the virus, but of letting down my blog readers and social media followers if I didn’t post regularly. I knew I hadn’t been especially consistent with posts and was already cutting myself slack since, ya know… it’s really freaking hard to work during a global pandemic. But last Monday felt different.

After years of therapy, I sort of know what to do in this situation. Basically, it all comes down to instinct and your gut response to asking yourself a question: what can I do today? What feels good right now? What won’t overwhelm me? I realized that I simply could not step foot in my ‘office’ and crank out content. Launching the second class about Instagram and Pinterest was a HUGE push and I was utterly depleted, on top of already being overly stressed out about our health crisis… and being cooped up in our house… and worrying about friends and family… the list goes on and on.

So that day, I asked myself what was the lowest impact activity I could handle and went with it. That meant getting out of bed, showering (a small victory in and of itself), making coffee, and doing a puzzle. Yup, I spent my entire day on Monday only doing a puzzle. Granted, I checked my email every once in a while, but that’s what I did for the day… and for pretty much every day last week. There was something about doing puzzles that felt meditative. I was mentally engaged, but still kinda checked out.

I had no idea I’d find something soothing about doing a puzzle, but it makes sense, so I just kept doing them. A friend and I swapped them back and forth (with proper distancing and disinfecting practices) and I basically completed one 1000 piece puzzle every 2-3 days. I remember Sean coming home for lunch with a worried look in his eye, but gradually he started to understand that I simply needed a break. It had all gotten to be too much.

And I didn’t just take a break from writing blog posts. I stopped doing chores around the house like laundry and putting things away. Meals were wayyy less complicated and formal (especially since the dining table was covered in puzzle pieces) and I didn’t get dressed, brush my hair, or wash my face most mornings. I often poured my first glass of wine around 2 pm and ate handfuls of granola for breakfast. The week sort of passed in a blur and that felt ok to me.

So why am I sharing this? Aside from professing my newly found love of puzzles and explaining where I’ve been all week, I wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. Everything is so freaking scary right now and it is ok to take some time off and simply do puzzles (or whatever else brings you some peace). I know that my ability to take that week off and do puzzles/little else comes from a place of privilege. I don’t have kids to worry about, Sean is still working as an essential worker, I’m my own boss and can just randomly decide to take the week off… trust me, I know that not everyone can do this.

But I would still urge you to think about what your version of this could be. Is it telling your partner that they need to watch the kids while you take a hot bath with noise cancelling headphones and expensive candles lit? Is it going for a longer-than-usual walk or a drive with the windows open and the new Fiona Apple album blaring? Or is it taking an edible and napping in the sun on your patio? All of those things are completely ok. We all deserve a break, especially right now.

So what’s next for me? I actually feel good this morning and ready to get down to work. I still started simple though: wake up the chickens, make coffee, hand write a to do list… I have some good ideas for posts I want to share this week, so that feels good. I definitely needed the break and can’t imagine what last week would have been like if I hasn’t actually taken the time off to reset. If this post resonates with you, leave a comment and let me know. What’s your version of doing puzzles? How are you finding peace these days?

XO & stay well!